John L. Allen Jr.: Amid avalanche, real questions about the papacy risk being obscured

(Crux) In the last six days, Pope Francis has been subject to three extraordinary accusations, each coming from disparate sources and covering different ground. In a nutshell, here they are:

  • On Sept. 17, a right-wing Italian blogger and writer named Maurizio Blondet, drawing on a report by an Argentine journalist, accused Francis of suffering from narcissistic personality disorder, which Blondet claims was manifest during the future pope’s time as a Jesuit provincial in the 1970s and which Blondet says has defined his career ever since, including in the papacy.
  • On Saturday, a group of 62 theologians, other academics and clergy – though only one bishop, and that was Bishop Bernard Fellay of the breakaway traditionalist Society of St. Pius X – accused Francis of propagating heresy in his document Amoris Laetitia, and its cautious opening to Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.
  • Also on Saturday, the Vatican’s former Auditor General, Italian businessman Libero Milone, charged the pope with essentially giving up on financial reform, saying he “started with the best of intentions” but has been blocked by an old guard willing to use frame-jobs and character assassination to destroy anyone threatening their grip on power.

Here’s the main problem with such an avalanche of accusations: It becomes difficult to distinguish what genuinely merits closer examination from matters which are, in essence, either same-old, same-old, or dubious on the face of it.

Specifically, there’s a risk that the very serious suggestions being made by Milone about the state of Francis’s much-ballyhooed financial reform will be drowned out by the noise generated by everything else. [More]